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ZIMBABWE SCHOOL EXAMINATIONS COUNCIL

GCE O’ LEVEL

ENGLISH LANGUAGE

PAPER 2

NOVEMBER 2006
SECTION A – 40 MARKS

Read the following passage very carefully before you attempt any questions.

The writer of the following passage, a Jew, narrates how he narrowly escapes
death, during the Second World War, from attacks by German troops of the SS
unit)

1. The days passed by put no help came from the city centre. For years now,
I had been used to hiding from everyone, except a group of friends who
knew that I was alive and where I was. I could not bring myself to leave
the room, letting the other people in the block know I was here and
having to enter into community life with them in our besieged flats.
Knowing about me would only make them feel worse. If the Germans
discovered on top of everything else, that they were hiding a „non Aryan‟
in the building, they would be punished twice as severely. I decided to go
on confining myself to eavesdropping through the door on the
conversations in the stairway. The news did not improve. Bitter battles
were being fought in the city centre, no support was coming from outside
Warsaw, and the German terror was growing in our part of the city. In
Langieviez Street, Ukranains let the inhabitants of a building burn to death
in its flames, and they shot the occupants of another block of flats.

2. The neighbour down below stopped visiting me. Perhaps some family
tragedy had driven my existence out of her mind. My provisions were
running out and they now consisted of nothing but a few rusks.

3. On August 11, the nervous tension in the building rose perceptibly.


Listening at the door, I could not make out was going on. All the tenants
were on the lower floors, talking in raised voices which they then suddenly
hushed. From the window I saw small groups of people slipping out of the
surrounding buildings now and then secretly making their way to ours.
They left again later. Towards evening, the tenants of the lower floors
unexpectedly came running upstairs. Some of them were on my floor. I
learned from their frightened whispering that there on my floor. I learned
from their frightened whispering that there were Ukranians in the building.
On this occasion however, they had come to murder us. They were busy
in the cellars for some time, took away the provisions stored down there
and disappeared again. That evening I heard keys turn in the lock of my
door and the padlock. Someone unlocked the door and removed the
padlock, but did not come in. whoever it was ran quickly downstairs
instead. What did that mean? The streets were full of leaflets that day.
Someone had scattered them, but who?

4. On August 12, about midday, panic broke out on the stairway again.
Distracted people kept running up and down. I concluded from scraps of
conversation that the building was surrounded by Germans and had to be
evacuated at once because the artillery were about to destroy it. My first
reaction was to get dressed, but I soon realized that I could not go out
into the street in full view of the SS men unless I wanted to be shot on
the spot. I heard firing from the street and a sharp voice pitched
unnaturally high calling, “Everyone out, please! Leave your flat at once
please!”

5. I cast a glance at the stairway; it was quiet and empty. I went over to
the window looking out on Sedziowska Street. A tank was pointing its gun
at my floor. Soon afterwards, there was a spurt of fire, the gun jerked
back, there was a roaring noise and a nearby wall fell over. Soldiers with
their sleeves rolled up and tin cans in their hands were running about.
Clouds of black smoke began rising up the outer wall of the building and
through the stairway, from the ground floor up to my forth floor. Some SS
men ran into the building and hurried upstairs. I locked myself in the
room, shook the small tube of strong sleeping tablets I had been taking
out of my palm and put my little bottle of opium ready at hand. I meant
to swallow the tablets and drink the opium as soon as the Germans tried
to open my door. But shortly afterwards, guided by an instinct that I could
hardly have analysed rationally, I changed my plan. I left the room for the
attic and closed the attic trapdoor after me. Meanwhile, the Germans were
already hammering on the doors of the third – floor flats with the butts of
their rifles. One of them came up to the fourth floor and entered my
room. However, his companions presumably thought it dangerous to stay
in the building any longer and began calling to him. “Get a move on,
Fischke!”

6. When the trampling down below moved away, I crawled out of the attic,
where I had almost been suffocated by the smoke coming up through the
ventilation shafts from the flats below, and went back to my room. I
indulged in the hope that only the ground floor flats, set on fire as a
deterrent, would burn, and the tenants would come back as soon as their
papers had been checked. I began to read a book, but I could not take in
a single word.

7. At dusk, my room was filling up with fumes and smoke and the red glow
of firelight came in through the window from outside. The smoke on the
stairway was so thick that you could not see the banisters. The loud,
explosive crackle of the fire as it burnt more fiercely, rose from the floors
below, together with the crack of splitting wood and the crash of
household items falling over. It would be impossible to use the stairs now.
I went to the window. The building was now burning, and the Germans
were simply waiting for the fire to reach the upper floors and the roof
timbers.

8. So this was to be my death in the end, the death I had been expecting for
five years, the death I had escaped day after day until now, it had finally
caught up with me. I had often tried to imagine it. I expected to be
captured and ill treated, then shot or suffocated in the gas chamber. It
had never occurred to me that I would burn alive.

9. I was perfectly calm now, with the calmness arising from my conviction
that there was nothing more I could do to change the course of events. I
let my glance wander round the room; its contours were in distinct as the
smoke became thicker, and it looked strange and uncanny in the
deepening twilight. I was finding it harder and harder to breathe. I felt
dizzy, and there was a rushing sound in my head – the first effects of
carbon monoxide poisoning.

10. I lay down on the sofa again. Why let myself be burnt alive when I could
avoid it by taking the sleeping tablets? How much easier my death would
be than the deaths of my parents, sisters and brother, gassed in
Treblinka! At these last moments, I tried to think only of them.

11. I found the little tube of sleeping tablets, tipped the contents into my
mouth and swallowed them. I was going to take the opium too, to make
perfectly sure I died, but I had no time to do it. The tablets worked
instantly on an empty, starved stomach. I felt asleep.

12. I did no die. Obviously, the tablets had not bee strong enough after all. I
woke at seven in the morning, feeling nauseous. There was a roaring in
my cars, the pulse at my temples was hammering painfully, my eyes were
starting from their sockets and my arms and legs felt numb. It was a
tickling sensation on my throat that had actually woken me. A fly was
crawling over it, numbed as I was by the events of the night, and like me,
half dead. I had to concentrate and summon up all my strength to move
my hand and swat it away.

13. My first emotion was not disappointment that I had failed to die, but joy
to find myself alive. I felt a boundless animal lust for life at any price. I
had survived a night in a burning building – now the main thing was to
save myself somehow.
Adapted from: The Pionist by Wladyslaw Szpilman, published by Phoenix, 2002.

Answer all questions

From Paragraph 1

1a)i. Who knew that the writer was alive and in hiding? (1)

ii). Give two reasons why the author could not bring himself to leave the
room. (2)

iii). Which one words proves that the building he lived in was under attack? (1

b). In your own words, explain how the writer gathered information about
what was happening in his country. (2)

c). What two actions by the Ukranians proved that they did not care for
human life? (2)

From Paragraph 3

d). What had the Ukranians done to the occupants of the building on an
earlier visit? (1)

from Paragraph 8

c). “So this was to be my death in the end “ To what does „this‟ refer? (1)

From Paragraph 11

2a). State clearly why the author failed to take the opium. (1)

From Paragraph 12

b). Use your own words to explain how the fly had been affected by the
events of the night. (2)
From Paragraph 13

c). In your own words, explain why the writer was not disappointed by his
failure to die. (2)

d). From the whole passage

Choose five of the following words or phrases. For each of them give one word
or short phrase (of not more than seven words) which has the same meaning
that the word or phrase has in the passage.

1. perceptibly
2. hushed
3. evacuated
4. hammering
5. deterrent
6. indistinct
7. summon up
8. swat

3. The writer gives an account of how he reacted when he thought all was
lost. Give a summary of his thoughts and actions from the time he
realized that the building was under attack up to the time he began to feel
the first effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Use only material from paragraph 4 up to paragraph 9.

You summary, which should be in continuous writing (not note form), must not
be longer than 160 words including the 10 words given below.

Realizing that the building was surrounded by the enemy, I ………………

(Total 20 marks)

Section B – 10 marks

4. Described below are five situations. Read the descriptions of each


situation carefully and then answer briefly the questions which follow.
a). Two farmers are discussing the unpredictable rainfall patterns.

i). One says: “ I cant ever get it right. This season is another bad one for
me.”

ii). The other says: “With the careful planning I have done, I will just pull
through again.”

What does each statement tell about the character of the farmer?

Number your answers separately (i) and (ii). (2)

b). You receive some money from a relative in the United Kingdom through
the „Homelink‟ programme. One of your friends comments:

i). “Some of those people couldn‟t make it there. That why they had to
leave.”

ii). “Those people are diligent. I understand they have to sweat to get that
pound.”

What does each statement show about your friend‟s attitude towards people who
try to make it abroad? Number your answers separately (i) and (ii). (2)

c). A father looks at his left handed five year old daughter trying to write. He
says:

i). “Oh no! How do I get her to be normal?”

ii). “Come on my dear. I know you can excel.”

What feelings does each statement reveal?


Number your answers separately (i) and (ii). (2)

d). A shopper scrutinizes goods in a shop, comparing local goods and


imported goods. In the end she says:

“Give me local products any day. That‟s my type.”

Give two different reasons why she would say so.


Number your answers separately (i) and (ii). (2)

e). Match the statement from column A with most appropriate term in column
B.

A
i). “Do not even think of that! You are asking for trouble.”

ii). “I told you. Its your own fault.”

iii). “You teased my dog, banged on my gate, climbed up my mango tree to


steal fruit, fell down and hurt your leg! I expect you want me to pay your
hospital bill.”

iv). “That dog was as big as a cow, as angry as a thunderstorm, with teeth
like a saw.”

1. Anger
2. Reproach
3. Irritation
4. Praise
5. Sarcasm
6. Threat
7. Lying
8. Exaggeration (2)

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